- Title: French man turns huge WW2 German bunker into B&B
- Date: 23rd August 2021
- Summary: LAMPAUL-PLOUARZEL, FRANCE (AUGUST 19, 2021) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (French) FORMER BUNKER EXPLORER AND PIONEER OF 'BUNKER ARCHAEOLOGY' WHO STARTED DIGGING UP BUNKERS IN THE 1980S, HERVE FARRANT, SAYING: "We searched for them, we even excavated them and we made discoveries. It took us time. Those blockhauses (German word for "bunker") had been forgotten and buried after the war. And we would open them up using shovels and so on. They were intact, even back then, but with time, they are all decaying because the sea salt is corroding them. So as years go by, they will disappear for good. Among these bunkers where there were beautiful paintings (some had been decorated by soldiers stationed there), three out of four have fallen victim to urban development." SAINT-PABU, FRANCE (AUGUST 19, 2021) (REUTERS) DRONE FOOTAGE OF BUNKERS ON COAST VARIOUS OF PARTIALLY BURIED BUNKER (SOUNDBITE) (French) 22-YEAR-OLD STUDENT AND PORTSALL INHABITANT, THOMAS PRIGENT, SAYING: "It is part of the history of Brittany and the Breton coast, because we have hundreds, thousands of bunkers, blockhauses. There are really part of the landscape and you can't have a walk on the coast without seeing one every 100 or 200 metres." MARCEL GRANGE AND PARTNER SITTING ON FORTIFICATION REMAINS, LOOKING AT HORIZON (SOUNDBITE) (French) CIVIL SERVANT FROM CHARENTE-MARITIME REGION, MARCEL GRANGE, SAYING: "It is a moment of our history, of the history of humanity, and it is a bit sad to want to destroy all this. On the contrary, it holds memories. Our grandparents have lived through this, my parents did too." VARIOUS OF PARTIALLY BURIED BUNKER (SOUNDBITE) (French) 52-YEAR-OLD LOCAL TEACHER, STEPHANE FROUIN, SAYING: "People have taken over those sites and so has the plants, which has taken over in some places. So it is always interesting to see the variations there can be (from one site to another)." LAMPAUL-PLOUARZEL, FRANCE (AUGUST 19, 2021) (REUTERS) TIPPED-OVER BUNKER ON BEACH BEACH SEEN THROUGH BUNKER ENTRANCE
- Embargoed: 6th September 2021 11:48
- Keywords: Atlantic Wall Brittany German Nazi Germany WW2 World War Two blockhaus bunker fortifications history
- Location: SAINT-PABU, LAMPAUL-PLOUARZEL, LE PORTZIC AND PLOUGONVELIN, BRITTANY, FRANCE
- City: SAINT-PABU, LAMPAUL-PLOUARZEL, LE PORTZIC AND PLOUGONVELIN, BRITTANY, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Europe,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA009ERI1T8N
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: A bunker built by German troops in northern France during World War Two has been given an unlikely new lease of life as an underground guesthouse, welcoming history buffs and visitors after remaining buried for years.
France's northern coast, including in Brittany and Normandy, is still strewn with fortifications left behind by the German army, which built up a so-called Atlantic Wall to try and fend off Allied Forces after invading France in 1940.
In Saint-Pabu, on the Breton seaside, concrete bunkers are half buried along the sandy beaches, in an area that once operated as a radar station to detect planes.
Serge Colliou, a bunker enthusiast, bought up a plot of land in the area, and spent 18 months digging out and renovating the 400 square metre bunker, turning it fully-functioning rental, complete with a bar area and cosy living room.
Nods to the war are present throughout the space, with memorabilia like helmets and reproductions of guns, although Colliou said he did not want to go overboard to allow guests to enjoy it for parties too.
"We adapted (the bunker) while preserving a certain feel," Colliou said. "We wanted to give the building a second life, so we are not going to live in the past forever. We saved some aspects, you know where you are, there are historic cues, but this isn't a museum either."
French visitors and foreigners including Germans have stayed as guests, after the bunker opened for rent a year ago, Colliou added. The site, now in a residential area and surrounded by houses and gardens close to the coast, was once operated by 30 men in the German airforce or Luftwaffe.
A night in the L479 bunker costs 320 euros (375 U.S. Dollars) a night for 6 people and a second floor can be opened to welcome up to 20 guests for 1100 euros (1289 U.S. Dollars) a night.
Some local mayors in France have looked to remove remains such as bunkers on beaches, in part as they can occasionally pose a danger to bathers. Some of the fortifications may be preserved for historical reasons, however, including in areas such as Saint-Nazaire, La Rochelle and Brest, and restored.
"We are starting to preserve those famous bunkers and it is a good thing, but we cannot save them all," said Herve Farrant, a bunker specialist and author who began to explore the structures in the 1980s.
(Production: Manuel Ausloos)
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